20190419 perspectives earth day us economy

Joseph Stiglitz: Corporate greed is accelerating climate change. But we can still head off disaster

Updated 1333 GMT (2133 HKT) April 21, 2019

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Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. He is also the co-chair of the High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress at the OECD, and the chief economist of the Roosevelt Institute. His latest book, People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent, will be released by W.W. Norton on April 23. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

Perspectives joseph e stiglitz

America's economy has not been working for a large portion of the country. Workers at the bottom of the income scale earn wages, adjusted for inflation, that are not much higher than what they were 60 years ago, while the income of a typical full‐time male worker hasn't budged much from 40 years ago. In addition, life expectancy is in decline. But the economy is not only failing American citizens. It's failing the planet, and that means it's failing future generations.

There are many reasons for our plight, including corporate power and greed centered on immediate profits and little regard for the impacts business decisions have on low-income Americans and the environment. Corporations have translated their economic power into political power, lobbying for policies that give them free rein to despoil the environment; and the swamp President Donald Trump promised to drain has been overflowing. At the same time, Trump has publicly asserted that climate change is a hoax, and yet his administration has repeatedly been forced to admit it is a reality — in response to climate lawsuits such as Juliana v. United States, for which I'm an expert witness.
Climate change is real, and it includes not only an increase in the average temperature, but also more extreme weather events including droughts, floods and hurricanes that have led to a large number of deaths. The United States has borne enormous costs as a result of the warming planet — in 2017, more than 1.5% of GDP. By the end of this century, some sectors of the US economy, including agriculture and